Meaning of speak in English:

speak

Pronunciation /spiːk/

See synonyms for speak

Translate speak into Spanish

verbspoke, spoken

[no object]
  • 1Say something in order to convey information or to express a feeling.

    ‘in his agitation he was unable to speak’
    • ‘she refused to speak about the incident’
    • ‘I stood silent, unable to speak as the information slipped into my mind.’
    • ‘During their gigs, the six-some regularly distributes pamphlets of information and speaks on stage about causes they feel strongly about.’
    • ‘Israel was quiet, as if digesting that bit of information and then he spoke, harshly and firmly.’
    • ‘Corman always gives good information whenever he speaks, and even if he talks less than usual, it's worth a listen.’
    • ‘I was thinking he is a journalist and what if he's gathering information as we speak - maybe I'll just sneak off by myself.’
    • ‘Unable to speak without her voice cracking, Maple waved him away, feeling the darkness gather.’
    • ‘She opened her mouth as if to speak, but seemed unable to get the words out.’
    • ‘Her voice was still fluctuating in pitch as she spoke, unable to control her delight at the ludicrous moment.’
    • ‘He speaks with conviction and conveys emotion well.’
    • ‘I was unable to speak, and I didn't trust my voice either.’
    • ‘The tube was still in his mouth, making him unable to speak.’
    • ‘He nodded, unable to speak as he shoveled food into his mouth.’
    • ‘Unable to speak, the girl could only move her mouth to call for her mother's help before falling to the ground unconscious.’
    • ‘John stands, open mouthed at the revelation and is left unable to speak.’
    • ‘She sighed and put her hand to her mouth, almost unable to speak anymore.’
    • ‘Tom suddenly felt himself unable to speak, his throat freezing up and his mouth suddenly going dry.’
    • ‘The prince surveyed the three, trying to speak but unable to find his voice.’
    • ‘Beads of sweat appeared on Miller's forehead as he opened his mouth but was unable to speak.’
    • ‘He breathed hard through his mouth, almost unable to speak.’
    • ‘I open my mouth to speak and Mum raises a hand, to shut me up.’
    talk, say, say anything, say something
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Have a conversation.
      ‘last time we spoke, you told me you couldn't do the job’
      • ‘I'll speak to him if he calls’
      • ‘I wish to speak privately with you’
      • ‘Maybe I would have never spoken to you, but that's because you don't speak to anyone.’
      • ‘Oh how I wish now that I had spoken to you, instead of waiting for you to speak to me.’
      • ‘She hadn't really tired to speak to Mark but then Mark hadn't spoken to her or shown any interest in talking at all to her since they had kissed.’
      • ‘Liam smiled, ‘After speaking with my family I was persuaded to speak to you both about arrangements.’’
      • ‘No one would have to speak to her and she would not have to speak back.’
      • ‘After I had spoken to all of them, there was still one person who I felt as though I still needed to speak to.’
      • ‘It was her decision to go and speak to people she hadn't spoken to in years, not his.’
      • ‘They speak to readers and other bloggers who speak back, through e-mails, comments or on blogs of their own.’
      • ‘Stephen has never addressed her in conversation, never spoken to her.’
      • ‘Every other movie I've done, I speak, converse, and tell anecdotes and have fun with the press.’
      • ‘Carl watched Emma and Michael intently as they spoke, following the conversation, looking from face to face.’
      • ‘Kira and the enemy were now in their own conversation, speaking in their own strange language.’
      • ‘I mean, if she had this information and she spoke with the police way back, why didn't she dish it out then?’
      • ‘Even before the incident, the emperor had spoken informally with associates of Cavour about an eventual alliance with Piedmont against Austria.’
      • ‘Have you ever heard from them or spoken to them or had any contact at all?’
      • ‘We have mailed all sorts of Rugby Club Secretaries around the country yet many players in teams we have spoken to haven't heard about it.’
      • ‘I managed to make her laugh even though I barely talked, but for once I was actually speaking to someone like a real person.’
      • ‘How odd is it, that writing seems more real to me than speaking to you in person?’
      • ‘These are all the people who normally never get to speak to film-makers about these issues.’
      • ‘But I only learned the full story when I spoke to a curator at the local museum.’
      have a conversation, talk, have a talk, have a discussion, converse, communicate, chat, have a chat, pass the time of day, have a word, gossip, make conversation
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2with object Utter (a word, message, etc.)
      ‘patients copy words spoken by the therapist’
      • ‘Times change, priorities change, but as Faust speaks these words his real message is clear.’
      • ‘Tanis looked at Merlin without a word, but the expression on his face spoke a clear message.’
      • ‘‘I love you’ her voice trembled as she spoke the three little words he had been dying to hear.’
      • ‘Never a truer word has been spoken and if Blue's latest offering is anything to go by they are about to complete what has been a hearty and eventful meal.’
      • ‘A spell usually consisted of two parts: the words to be spoken and a description of the actions to be taken.’
      • ‘They sat there for a few moments, no one saying anything, but no words needing to be spoken.’
      • ‘As Rhoen spoke those words a female voice rang out behind him.’
      • ‘As it hovered menacingly, it spoke the now familiar words in its screeching voice.’
      • ‘Many students felt that parents shouldn't say this to their children; others stated that their own parents had spoken those very words.’
      • ‘He tried to concentrate on the words that were being spoken around him, but they seemed far away and he struggled to make sense of them as he prepared himself for the worst.’
      • ‘Not one word had been spoken between Lena and herself.’
      • ‘But not a word had been spoken to her about such a marriage yet.’
      • ‘Before another word could be spoken, though, the basement door opened again and my mother and I both looked over to see Blaine step into the kitchen.’
      • ‘Before another word can be spoken, everything around him explodes.’
      • ‘His mouth opened but before a word could be spoken I walked away.’
      • ‘It has not created a polarized choice between spoken and printed information.’
      • ‘There were no conversations spoken, and none were needed: talk just sounded hollow and pointless in the big scheme of things.’
      • ‘The greatest laughs come when we realise the full banality of virtual conversations, when spoken out loud.’
      • ‘There was a break in the conversation, and I spoke what I was thinking.’
      • ‘Before she could speak to whoever had decided to visit her she heard… no, felt a word spoken and something within the door unraveled.’
      talk, say, say anything, say something
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3with object Communicate in or be able to communicate in (a specified language)
      ‘my mother spoke Russian’
      • ‘They were also very intelligent and able to speak every language naturally.’
      • ‘Prospect New Town, for its part, speaks the language of community and celebrates authenticity.’
      • ‘Do you know which ones are able to speak the language you know?’
      • ‘Now that I look back at this he might have been making fun of me for not being able to speak my own language very well, which would have been much more embarrassing.’
      • ‘They have to be able to speak the languages of the scientist and the fishing industry, the tourist operator and the recreational sailor.’
      • ‘He was able to convincingly speak the language of revolution and continued to do so down through the dark days of civil war and into the early 1930s.’
      • ‘They wanted their kids to be able to speak the language I'm speaking now.’
      • ‘Viewers have not always been able to speak this language, certainly not consciously, but it hasn't stopped us trying.’
      • ‘She claimed to have graduated from Vassar College, to be able to speak four languages and to have attended the Sorbonne in Paris.’
      • ‘Armenians everywhere think that being able to speak the language is an important part of being Armenian.’
      • ‘The dream of many Oneidas is that one day most members will be able to speak the language fluently.’
      • ‘Although he is able to speak some French, and presumably the receptionist is able to speak some English, neither accommodates to the other.’
      • ‘In the ethnically diverse town, several dialects were spoken, and the language of the Husserl home probably was Yiddish.’
      • ‘Among Ghanaian Americans, more than 100 languages and dialects are spoken.’
      • ‘Over sixty local languages and dialects are spoken, the most widely used of which are Kikongo, Sangha, and Bateke.’
      • ‘Minority groups speak Arabic as well as their own languages at home, and English is widely spoken as a second language.’
      • ‘English is spoken as the primary language at home by 3 percent of the population.’
      • ‘The Philippines lacks a common language and about eighty languages and dialects are spoken in the islands.’
      • ‘If you want to speak to us (and we do comprise the vast majority of society) then speak in a language that we understand.’
      • ‘This Vanuatu tribesman could only make hand motions and repeat words in his foreign language, though everyone living on Efate speaks at least some conversational English.’
    4. 1.4Make a speech or contribute to a debate.
      ‘twenty thousand people attended to hear him speak’
      • ‘During his long speech, he finally speaks about the silence in which he has brought up his beloved son.’
      • ‘I also heard him speak at a lecture, which I found inspirational.’
      • ‘And in hearing her speak, I think she comes off very differently.’
      • ‘I was shocked and still am to a degree although I understand it better now that I've heard the jurors speak about their thinking on it.’
      • ‘A long time ago, when I heard him speak, he said, set yourselves apart from this corrupt generation, be saints.’
      • ‘In 1983, I heard him speak in Washington, D.C., and he addressed this very issue.’
      • ‘He travelled to hear his hero speak and later sailed with him in Narragansett Bay.’
      • ‘I could speak and debate about people not believing things for quite some time, but I am sure that you would, as would I, like to continue.’
      • ‘Forensically speaking, that information is golden.’
      • ‘But the actress has always refused to speak on the issue.’
      • ‘They also gain a little confidence in public speaking through their oral reports to the class.’
      • ‘And as a priest, he's uniquely positioned to speak on the issue.’
      • ‘In a race for the Ohio Supreme Court, one candidate spoke freely about his views and the other filled his war chest.’
      • ‘Camby speaks from a position of hegemonic ideology.’
      • ‘In my view, and speaking as someone who worked in this industry for over eleven years, payment protection insurance is one of the most grotesque financial rip-offs ever.’
      • ‘I've just realised that I'm speaking from the position of someone who doesn't find that rules make me feel safe.’
      • ‘I do not, however, feel authorized to speak from any other position than that constructed for me by my race, class, and sexual identity.’
      • ‘I suppose I am in a somewhat unique position to speak about the ‘new’ economy for two reasons.’
      • ‘I suppose I am speaking from the position of a person who sees the question as, essentially, valid.’
      • ‘He spoke in the early afternoon and claimed in his evidence that he left soon afterwards.’
      give a speech, give a talk, talk, lecture, give a lecture, deliver an address, give a sermon, hold forth, discourse, expound, expatiate, orate, harangue, sermonize, pontificate
      View synonyms
  • 2with object (of behaviour, an object, etc.) serve as evidence for something.

    ‘his frame spoke tiredness’
    • ‘It was his evidence that he spoke as loudly in the operating room that day as he did in the witness box - which would have been a fairly loud voice for such a setting.’
    • ‘The evidence speaks frequently of the 10.01 block and that is the first item in the left-hand column at 529.’
    • ‘Our case speaks in terms of evidence of identification being excluded if it would be unfair or if it was undertaken unfairly to the appellant.’
    • ‘It turns out, this biographical information speaks more of Dowse's sense of humour than it does of his academic qualifications.’
    • ‘I merely need to soak it in, bathe in it, let it speak to me the way it has spoken to others.’
    • ‘It speaks of the future, of possibly healing wounds, even of the conditions under which that could happen.’
    • ‘Throughout, though, there is a warmth and purity that speaks of hope rather than despair.’
    • ‘Door after door, each numbered rather than named, spoke of how many people were held here.’
    • ‘The fact that this campaign had to be initiated speaks of the sad state of misinformation current in North American society.’
    • ‘Love's a plague again, that's for sure, but this time the sentiment is spoken with an auditor's clarity.’
    indicate, mean, suggest, show, denote, display, demonstrate, be evidence of, register, reflect, reveal, betray, evince, disclose, exhibit, manifest
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1archaic with object and infinitive or adverbial Show (someone or something) to be in a particular state or to possess a certain quality.
      ‘she had seen nothing that spoke him of immoral habits’
      • ‘She had never seen any thing that betrayed him to be unprincipled or unjust, anything that spoke him of irreligious or immoral habits.’
      • ‘Jane Austen's Darcy does not (I quote directly from Chapter 36 of Pride and Prejudice) have in his manner anything that spoke him of irreligious or immoral habits.’
  • 3(of a musical instrument or other object) make a sound when functioning.

    ‘the gun spoke again’
    • ‘insufficient air circulates for the pipes to speak’
    • ‘Mozart raises the accompaniment to share some of that interest, so that the violin and the piano speak on relatively equal terms.’
    • ‘The remarkable thing, though, is that both instruments speak with a distinctive voice that is recognisably the same.’
    • ‘It's silence in remembrance of a talented, haunted man, but he deserves a eulogy, and his guitar speaks better than anyone ever could.’
    • ‘Crashing chords pound out from the piano line while the clarinet speaks in a tonal, coolly cerebral mode.’
    • ‘Her ability to make full use of the space into which this splendid instrument speaks is pure delight.’
    • ‘Five times in instantaneous succession, the heavy gun spoke, the crashing sound deafening all within the room.’
    • ‘The animal's head was visible on the road, and the gun spoke.’
    1. 3.1(of a hound) bark.
      ‘Every so often retrain the "Speak" command to keep this reinforcement.’
      • ‘Tell him to speak and then wait for him to speak.’

Phrases

    speak volumes
    • (of a gesture, circumstance, etc.) convey a great deal without using words.

      ‘a look that spoke volumes’
      • ‘his record speaks volumes for his determination’
      • ‘‘Don't bring my brother into this,’ Micah's tone was cold and spoke volumes more than the words themselves.’
      • ‘His expression spoke volumes his words could not.’
      • ‘Buffy stood up and walked toward Spike, and I could see how effortlessly her every gesture spoke volumes to him.’
      • ‘Actions speak louder than words, and inaction speaks volumes.’
      • ‘Many emotions were playing across Carly's expressive face, speaking volumes without saying a word.’
      • ‘It was not the bond of a family, but the bond of those who knew each other so well that they could speak volumes without words.’
      • ‘The look spoke volumes, volumes Zack couldn't grasp.’
      • ‘Kylara needed no words; her sad teal eyes spoke volumes.’
      • ‘Who needs fancy words when an effortless turn of inflection can speak volumes?’
      • ‘She'd get into the habit of rooting around in charity shops (thrift-stores in America) for an outfit that spoke volumes in individuality and style.’
    speak for yourself
    • Used to tell someone that an opinion they have expressed is not shared by oneself.

      ‘‘This is such a boring place.’ ‘Speak for yourself—I like it.’’
      • ‘Speak for yourself, but my aromatherapy mist is working wonders.’
      • ‘Speak for yourself but don't speak for me.’
    something speaks for itself
    • The implications of something are so clear that no supporting evidence is needed.

      ‘the figures speak for themselves’
      • ‘Well, I'm waiting to hear what else the defense puts up, but right now, the evidence speaks for itself.’
      • ‘The irrefutable evidence of unprecedented horrors speaks for itself after more than half a century.’
      • ‘The evidence of the visitations speaks for itself.’
      • ‘He's a guy who never gives up, who is always looking to improve and his record speaks for itself.’
      • ‘He was a very fair man, he was a kind gentleman - and his record speaks for itself.’
      • ‘I believe your work speaks for itself and needs no defending.’
      • ‘You take the reins in social situations, and your personality speaks for itself.’
      • ‘By any stretch of the imagination they have done us proud and their record speaks for itself.’
      • ‘Often our city speaks for itself through its unique historic past, but we mustn't be complacent.’
      • ‘I think my performance at York over the last three years speaks for itself.’
    speak in tongues
    • 1Speak in an unknown language during religious worship, regarded as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2).

      ‘Pentecostals believe that every child of God should be his own minister, imbued directly with the Holy Spirit and the gift of speaking in tongues.’
      • ‘But he was instead an apostle, an ad hoc theologian, a proclaimer, a charismatic who saw visions and spoke in tongues - and a religious genius.’
      • ‘Fuelled by American-style revivalism, the church emphasized radical gospel practices - such as speaking in tongues - that whipped worshippers into a frenzy.’
      • ‘This conveys power to practise the gifts of the Spirit: speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, exorcism.’
      • ‘Glossolalia was a central part of Parham's message and one of his students, Agnes Ozman, spoke in tongues on 1 January 1901.’
      • ‘Some ten million Americans call themselves Pentecostals of one kind or another, and the faith is best known for promoting the practice of speaking in tongues.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, Pastor Lake egged him on, breaking out into pointed applause and speaking in tongues.’
      • ‘The symposium after the meal was the time for teaching and conversation, for the singing of hymns, for the contributions of those who prophesied or spoke in tongues.’
      • ‘Goff eventually received the Pentecostal experience and spoke in tongues along with other ministers in the conference.’
    • 2Speak in an unknown language during religious worship.

    — to speak of
    • with negative Used to indicate that there is so little of something that it is hardly worth mentioning.

      ‘I've no capital—well, none to speak of’
      • ‘One of the problems's there's hardly a music industry to speak of in Ukraine - at least not a legal one.’
      • ‘This movie doesn't have much of a plot to speak of - it mainly consists of a several skits tied together.’
      • ‘Obviously Waterloo lacks perspective on drinking laws and apparently has no real crime to speak of.’
      • ‘The book doesn't actually have any conflict to speak of, as a friend of mine pointed out as we were leaving.’
      • ‘That one destroyer is the only one of them who's done any damage to speak of.’
      • ‘Whether inside or out, everyone would be able to see since there was no front and back stage to speak of, but a small circle of earth.’
      • ‘There are no extras to speak of apart from a dirty and grainy teaser trailer.’
      • ‘The sound is the original mono and is reproduced clearly with no noticeable hiss or noise to speak of.’
      • ‘A few trailers are included on the film, but there are no major extras to speak of, which is a shame.’
      • ‘They hadn't done anything to his hair, of which there wasn't much to speak of.’
    not to speak of
    • Used in introducing a further factor to be considered.

      ‘the rent had to be paid, not to speak of school fees’
      • ‘Although the appellant is a Punjabi, the Punjabi people are to be found all over India, not to speak of all over the world.’
      • ‘Plainly, the existence of French Canada, and of Quebec as a province with a francophone majority, not to speak of a distinct historical lineage, introduced a persistent ambiguity into any concept of a Canadian nation-state.’
      • ‘Of course, hockey remains deep within Indian hearts in these quadrennial sojourns, but the events leading up to the Games, not to speak of the record against top teams in recent months, do not inspire confidence.’
      • ‘Italy needs honest administration, decent public services and accountable government, not to speak of jobs for its unemployed, which the old order failed to provide.’
      • ‘The reception of this effervescence abroad varied from country to country, but no major culture in the West, not to speak of Japan, was altogether exempt from it.’
      • ‘The city, he stated, stood to benefit from the large sum that the War Department was prepared to spend on the conversion of the airport into a military field, not to speak of the new facility's annual payroll.’
      • ‘The sidewalk festival, now in its 38th year, attracts 300 regional and national artists - not to speak of the 50,000 visitors.’
      • ‘For the vast majority of free women, not to speak of slave women, the treasured elite concepts of seclusion and isolation which were the foundations of virginity were not possible.’
      • ‘In other words - and honestly - the children's writer does not have the kind of freedom, not to speak of license, which the writer for the grown up has.’
      • ‘Similar markets exist for paper writing and other tasks, not to speak of the large market in pre-written papers.’
    speak for oneself
    • Give one's own opinions.

      ‘I'm not speaking for me and Jack, I'm speaking for myself’
      • ‘They spoke for themselves and their comrades, those who had died as well as those who lay helpless in veterans' hospitals, forgotten by the prating politicians who publicly claimed to exalt them.’
      • ‘Inside the quiet, orderly courtroom, facing the judge, Libby spoke for himself.’
      • ‘And she spoke for herself, not for anyone else.’
      • ‘Precisely because academics are free to express their own views, people know that a professor speaks for himself, and not necessarily for the university.’
      • ‘Maybe he doesn't speak for every man, but he speaks for himself and that's all you can do… all you should do when you set out to create anything.’
      • ‘I stare at the fat man, wondering who will interpret, when he speaks for himself.’
      • ‘This is particularly the case for individuals with learning disabilities who often have difficulties in speaking for themselves.’
      • ‘‘They were speaking for themselves,’ Duboff commented.’
      • ‘I think a lot of us who did that - I certainly am speaking for myself - do not - I'm not proud of that.’
      • ‘Well, speaking for myself, comrades, there I draw the line. Not one step.’
    speak one's mind
    • Express one's opinions frankly.

      ‘he is a tough politician who speaks his mind in a blunt way’
      • ‘They have wild opinions and they speak their mind.’
      • ‘Her mother had always taught her to speak her mind, have solid opinions, and never lose her head.’
      • ‘And I don't mind speaking my mind because I'm in a position to.’
      • ‘He spoke his mind after careful consideration; she blurted out her opinion.’
      • ‘Many who spoke their mind out on the subject live in hostels.’
      • ‘‘I spoke my mind to George, a few too many times,’ he recalls.’
      • ‘On the other hand people are free to speak their minds and to demonstrate.’
      • ‘And it makes me feel proud that I've actually inspired these people to speak their minds.’
      • ‘She is going to create avenues for people to speak their minds.’
      • ‘After some forced chit-chat about my flight and hotel, she squinted in that discomfiting way that people preparing to speak their minds do.’

Phrasal Verbs

    speak for
    • speak for someoneExpress the views or position of another person or group.

      • ‘he claimed to speak for the majority of local people’
    speak to
    • 1speak to someoneTalk to someone in order to tell off or advise them.

      • ‘she tried to speak to John about his drinking’
    • 2speak to somethingDiscuss or comment on something formally.

      ‘the Church wants to speak to real issues’
      • ‘we should be disappointed if the report did not speak to the issue of literacy’
      1. 2.1speak to someoneAppeal or relate to someone.
        • ‘the story spoke to him directly’
    speak of
    • 1speak of somethingMention or discuss something in speech or writing.

      ‘she spoke of her memories of the early days’
      • ‘the books speak of betrayal’
    • 2speak of somethingServe as evidence for something.

      ‘everything in the house spoke of hard times and neglect’
      • ‘her harping on him spoke strongly of a crush’
      indicate, mean, suggest, show, denote, display, demonstrate, be evidence of, register, reflect, reveal, betray, evince, disclose, exhibit, manifest
      View synonyms
    speak up
    • 1Speak more loudly.

      ‘We can't hear you. Speak up!’
      • ‘The man sitting behind them leaned over and said: ‘Do you mind speaking up a bit?’’
      • ‘At one point the jury had to send a note to the judge to ask him to speak up, and he was the closest person to it.’
      • ‘Speak up? What a notion, coming as I did from the land of "Sit down, Francine" and "Be quiet, Francine".’
      • ‘Can you speak up? I can't hear you!’
    • 2Express one's opinions frankly and openly.

      ‘teachers are aware of the problems, but don't have the courage to speak up’
      • ‘there was no independent body to speak up for press freedoms’
      • ‘employees experienced difficulties in speaking up against unfair practices’
    speak out
    • Express one's feelings or opinions frankly and publicly.

      ‘the government will be forthright in speaking out against human rights abuses’
      • ‘the centre was founded to speak out on behalf of workers’
      • ‘He spoke out publicly during colonialism and in post-colonial politics against what he considered to be injustices.’
      • ‘I just don't know what companies are doing because they're not willing to speak out publicly.’
      • ‘The vast majority of artists, mind you, don't speak out publicly at all.’
      • ‘As first lady, did you ever speak out publicly about policy issues specific to gays and lesbians?’
      • ‘The public spoke out, saying we don't need arms; we are not at war, and we are unlikely ever to be.’
      • ‘Freedom of speech is a fact, although by no means do individuals yet speak out freely at public meetings.’
      • ‘A few of my colleagues do speak out on public issues, others don't.’
      • ‘The highly publicized dispute led numerous arts professionals to speak out on behalf of the director.’
      • ‘I think people need to be able to speak out freely on public issues.’
      • ‘It shocked me to realize that he had decided to speak out on my behalf.’
      • ‘She spoke up very well for herself, just like a doctor's wife should.’

Origin

Old English sprecan, later specan, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch spreken and German sprechen.